Tyrone Huntley

Angry, Southwark Playhouse
Interview by: Abiola Lawal

Afridiziak Theare News talked to Olivier Award nominated stage star Tyrone Huntley ahead of his new role in the world premiere Angry written by Philip Ridley and showing at the Southwark Playhouse.

How are rehearsals going?

We are in the final week of rehearsals and it’s all getting exciting as we head closer to opening night.

Tell us more about the play.

The play is quite out of this world literally and is a series of six monologues. Each night Georgie (Henley) and I each perform three of the monologues, an interesting twist is that we alternate the monologues each night, so every other night it is a different show. The monologues are based on themes of being angry and the different situations that make us all as a human race angry, individually, and collectively. The whole experience is very interesting and has been a challenge.

How do you prepare mentally and physically for such a role?

This is the first time in my career that I have had to learn the whole script of a play, and as both characters alternate monologues each night we both have to learn everything, there are no shortcuts. So far in my career I have been in musicals and I’m used to learning songs and mainly my parts of a script, but in this production, there is no music, and doing something where I have no songs to learn is difficult for me and my brain has had to adjust as I’m so used to music being a main part of a production. This is new to me and I am so happy to be learning through trial and error. Doing this type of show has given me the chance to learn so many new techniques and methods to learn the material and keep it in my head but also to perform it. It has been a learning experience in my career and taken me out of my comfort zone.

How did you get involved in this performance and transition from musicals?

Well over the last couple of years I have had some incredible opportunities with musicals and my career has grown so much via those platforms that I got to a point where I was after something that was challenging and would push me in a different way. Music and singing will always be with me and have gotten me this far, so at this stage I wanted to develop more of my acting so a project like this was the perfect opportunity to do that really.

What have you enjoyed most?

Working with Philip (Ridley) from the first day of rehearsals has been fantastic. He is well known as being such a cool and current playwright and working with him directly allowed me to understand his inspiration behind writing the monologues. Also working with director, Max Lindsay, is awesome as most of our rehearsals are one on one so he really focuses on you and gives so much guidance and feedback which helps in developing the characters. It’s great to have a director who works with each actor and tries to get the best out of each us. As we rehearse separately I haven’t had a chance to work with Georgie, but we do stay in touch via texts and we cheer each other on. She’s been a great support throughout this process, she’s amazing – so supportive.

Working with everyone has been really enjoyable, I’m loving it.

I’ve done musicals as there is usually a cast of like 30 people and in Angry where I am performing monologues and rehearsing on my own there is a lot of pressure and absolutely no respite.

As you rehearse solo and the play is all monologues has it been a lonely experience?

In some ways yes but it has not been so lonely that it’s ruined the experience in any way. I am used to having a large cast when I’ve done musicals as there is usually a cast of like 30 people and in Angry where I am performing monologues and rehearsing on my own there is a lot of pressure and absolutely no respite. You have a full day of rehearsals and the focus is solely on you. You have to give 100 per cent and be on throughout there is no chance for a 10 second breather or to hold back as you have to be there and always be present it is a lot of hard work. It has been challenging but I can feel my development and growth as an actor.

This might be controversial but is there any monologue that you do not like?

There isn’t one that I don’t like they are all extremely well written and the subject matter in all of them is brilliant, it is a pleasure to perform them. But I have to say there is one particular monologue that has been very challenging, the final monologue called “Air” which is a marathon of a monologue, it’s the longest one of the six and every time I start I can’t see myself finishing it as it seems to go on forever. I literally cannot see the end. This monologue is long but it so detailed and real and on the bright side it is great to be able to show my stamina and power as it goes on for 25 minutes.

How are you hoping the audience will receive the play?

The play is quite a hard-hitting piece, it is a mixture of hard hitting drama and dark comedy. From the title Angry you can tell that it is going to be emotional and intense. If we do our jobs right as actors the audience will get quite a strong and emotional response from the monologues as the writing is so emotive.

How do you feel about this sort of drama and theatre? Do you want to return to musical theatre or keep exploring drama like this?

I have been thrown in the deep end with this play, this is my first non-musical and I have had to learn everything. It’s been a big challenge, but I think I have enjoyed it so far and I feel like I am learning and growing, it’s so great to learn new skills and push the boundaries away from what I’m used to. I love musical theatre, but it has been great to learn and do something completely different from what I’m used to, versatility is important.

Your career has been a great journey, from being nominated for an Olivier Award, winning the Evening Standard Award and being a part of ground-breaking shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Dreamgirls, and Book of Mormon. How has life changed in the face of such recognition.

Doing this type of show has given me the chance to learn so many new techniques and methods to learn the material and keep it in my head

Without those accolades and the success of Jesus Christ Superstar I probably wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to do something like Angry right now. In the industry it is difficult to go from musical theatre to darker straight drama. These accolades have given me the credentials to show that I can sing but I am an actor too and a good one. Everything has given me the chance to hold my own and shine which has led me to be in a production like this where it is just me on stage and no chorus behind me.

How and when did you know you could act and that it was your calling?

As a child I went to a lot of acting clubs and I enjoyed it as a hobby. It wasn’t until I was 16 or 17 that I considered it as a career and I was encouraged by my English and Drama teachers to apply for drama school. When I got into drama school things took off from there. Before that I had dreams of being a lawyer and after graduating from drama school I did a couple of years acting in theatre then I decided to do what is called a graduate diploma in Law so now I have the equivalent of a law degree to fall back on.

Wow, that is impressive.

Do you think you will ever make the move into film or tv?

Never say never. It’s something that I wouldn’t say no to if it happened but it’s not something I am aiming towards, I’m so comfortable on stage. And, the whole fame thing puts me off that is not something that I want in my life. I enjoy not being recognised everywhere I go right now.

Cheesy question but what makes you angry?

A lot of things make me angry, I’m quite an irritable person, I hide it well. People being selfish makes me angry. People who don’t give up their seat on a train for example or worse people who smoke in public spaces with no regard for non-smokers. Oooh and people coughing and sneezing without covering their mouth. Bad habits really annoy me.

What plans do you have for 2018?

I’m putting myself out there as an actor, being an actor is about being on the lookout for the next role and that’s what I’m doing, always waiting for the right thing to come along.

How would you encourage emerging actors?

You need to be headstrong, ambitious, confident in this business and understand that having talent doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be successful. It is all about timing and many different elements out of your control play a part. You must be ready for rejection and deal with it, but the struggle absolutely does pay off when the right role does come along so you also need patience. This is a great industry to be a part of and I couldn’t think of anything else that I’d rather be doing.

NEED TO KNOW: Angry is at Southwark Playhouse from 14 Feb to 10 Mar | See listing